There's a severe shortage of professional mental health care providers in Texas. Peer specialists — certified and paid — have begun to bridge the gap. Texas is one of more than 35 states that finance peer services through Medic

Recovery coaches and peer mentors – known in Alcoholics Anonymous as “sponsors” — have for decades helped people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Now, peer support for people who have serious mental illness is becoming more common, too. Particularly in places like Texas, where mental health professionals are in short supply, paid peer counselors are filling a gap.
David Woodside, who has been living with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder his whole life, is getting help this way. Not too long ago, he wound up in Dallas County jail for the first time, at the age of 57. Woodside had become upset and kicked his brother.
“Nothing good happens in jail,” he says. “They don’t give you your medication.”
After his brothers, including the one he kicked, bailed him out, Woodside enrolled in an anger management class in Dallas at Metrocare, a nonprofit serving people with mental illness in North Texas.
At Metrocare, …